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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Your rights are going away folks, wake up!

Howard Stern is once again coming under fire. Under investigation by the FCC. Pulled from 6 ClearChannel markets. Silenced and censored.

This is the government you bought with Bush. He is far more dangerous than any of the terrorists he's supposed to be fighting against. Because he's turning his own people against one another.

ClearChannel has every right to pull Stern off their stations. They may be in breach of contract, but that's a civil matter between Stern and CC. But let's look at CC's rationale. They initiated a "Responsibility in Broadcasting Initiative" and gave their stations & personalities a couple days to agree to their new "deceny" rules. Then started pulling programs. Again, they have that right, they're a private business. But when you license The Howard Stern Show, you know the product you're getting well ahead of time. It's no secret. He's been doing the show over 20 years.. You have ample opportunity to sample the product before committing to it. To claim that you're surprised by the content of the show after purchasing rings hollow.

The crux of their argument, the event that pushed CC over the edge: A discussion with the male star of the now-infamous Paris Hilton sex tape, and a racial comment made by a caller. Both things that happen regularly on the show. This is new now? What's changed? And why is it that CC's rap-oriented stations are permitted to use this racially-driven word, and broadcast it in many songs as well, but a Stern caller can't?

Many like to hide behind the deceny claims. But aside from a very few FCC regulations (only one which is specific), there's nothing on the books that prohibits it. You aren't forced to listen to the show. If you don't like it, don't listen. Turn off the radio. Put it on a different station. If you don't want your kids listening to it, don't have it on while you're getting them out the door and onto the bus. Or while you're driving them to school. It's that easy. Most of Stern's show is on while kids shouldn't be able to access it in the first place. And much of what's said on it will fly right over the heads of anyone under 12. While you're at it, make sure your 8 year old isn't watching Friends with her older sister. There's plenty of stuff in there that's as dangerous, and it's right on prime-time TV.

Howard Stern has not been fined by the FCC in almost 10 years. He has not violated the "Seven Ditry Words" made famous by George Carlin. He has gone to great lengths to not cross the codified lines defining the boundaries. What changed?

Janet Jackson.

The whole flap over Janet Jackson's little costume (pun intended) is what started all this. And has she come under fire by the FCC? Nope. Or MTV? No. CBS? No. All are rolling right along, virtually unscathed now. So what makes Stern a target?

Here it is, folks: Stern is getting slammed because he's exercising his First Amendment rights. Specifically, he's been very critical of the Bush administration in the past few weeks. And that's getting him slapped around. Your government is trying to shut him up. The Chariman of the FCC is the son of the Secretary of State. And President Bush has had profitable business dealings with one of CC's VPs in the past. Connect the dots, folks. The whole "deceny" thing is a complete smokescreen. And Stern's parent company can't even get a fair fight against all this because the FCC will virtually freeze their business, putting a hold on renewing licenses for stations that air his program, and so on. So he can fight it and risk losing a lot, or sit back and take every punch.

This is exactly what the First Amendment was written to protect against. Some are hiding behind an argument of "I can protest against Stern, I'm free to say that" but what those people don't realize is that they are exercising the very right that they want taken away. Stern has every right to say what he's saying about Bush and his administration (which is, as I said above, what I believe is behind all this - not "decent"). And you have every right to ignore it. Or argue against him. Or agree.

My final message in all of this is: I don't care if you agree with what you're seeing and hearing from Howard Stern and people like him. I don't care if you agree with me here. If you want to argue against or for it, if you want to protest it or organize a support rally, go right ahead. But recognize that the very freedoms and protections that you are attempting to take away from those you are protesting against are the freedoms and protections that allow you speak against and protest those people. Take it away from Howard Stern, take it away from me, and eventually you'll be censoring yourself.


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